GOP congressman slams “lemming” colleagues

"I don't think they're conservatives; they're anything but that"

Topics: Devin Nunes, GOP, Republican Party, GOP Civil War, National Review, Robert Costa, Tea Party,

GOP congressman slams "lemming" colleaguesDevin Nunes (Credit: AP/Gary Kazanjian)

In an interview on Monday with Robert Costa of the National Review, Congressman Devin Nunes, who made headlines last week for calling a group of unnamed Republicans “lemmings with suicide vests,” expressed his deep frustration with his party’s direction during the ongoing government shutdown.

After insisting that he doesn’t have “anything personal against” Ted Cruz, Nunes nevertheless vociferously criticized his party’s Cruz-backed strategy to shut down the government as a way to repeal or defund Obamacare. “ I couldn’t stand there and go along with something I knew wasn’t plausible,” Nunes said. “It never was; never has been.”

But Nunes saved his sharpest criticisms for those he had previously referred to as “lemmings,” a bloc of roughly 30-50 members of Congress (dubbed the “suicide caucus” by conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer) that has spurred Speaker Boehner to make evermore extreme demands in exchange for funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling.

“[Y]ou have this secret cadre of members that has been continually meeting, not to plot about how to get rid of Obamacare, not to plot about how to save this country from the leftists, but they’ve been plotting on how they themselves can get power,” Nunes said. “I don’t think they’re conservatives; they’re anything but that.”

Yet despite his frustration, the California congressman said he sees no other path to resolve the crisis other than to let the “lemmings” have their way. “I think we have to continue,” Nunes said. “I think until these guys that put this strategy into effect see it play out, we won’t learn our lesson.” Perhaps that’s why Nunes ultimately voted to jump off the cliff with his fellow lemmings and shut down the government.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith, and email him at

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